Himachal to boost infrastructure in 210 villages on China border
Intelligence inputs find China strengthening infrastructure along border by building dual-use villages that can house troops and local population
The Himachal Pradesh government has started strengthening infrastructure in 210 villages in Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts along the China border under the Centre-sponsored Village Vibrant Programme.
The state shares a 240-km border with China, including the 80-km stretch at Chumar in Lahaul-Spiti and 160km from Daroti to Mumti Dogri in Kinnaur. The state government’s initiative comes amid reports that China is fast developing infrastructure in its border villages, including ‘dual use’ ones that can house troops and the local population.
Indian intelligence agencies say 628 such dual-use villages have been set up on the 3,448-km line of actual control (LAC) in phases since 2017.
More facilities, opportunities for villagers
There are 231 revenue villages and 90 inhabited ones in Lahaul-Spiti district. Of the 81 villages under the Border Area Development Programme, 70 are located 0-10km from the border where the density of population of the block is 2 sq km per person. There are 2,583 households in the Spiti border block and its literacy rate is 84.64%. “The programme will increase opportunities to enhance the livelihood of villagers,” said Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Neeraj Kumar.
In Kinnaur district, 129 villages will get more facilities under the programme. Of them, 67 are in Pooh block and the rest in Kalpa. “Special meetings were organised in all villages concerned and proposals from them have been consolidated and submitted to the government,” said the Kinnaur deputy commissioner, Abid Hussain Sadiq.
Under the programme, footbridges and helipads will be built in strategic areas. Drinking water arrangements will be added along with irrigation facilities for farmers, who would be trained in horticulture development, forestry, and organic farming. Besides, the government will strengthen health facilities in the tribal regions. It’s due to the harsh conditions that doctors are reluctant to join tribal areas and there are no private practitioners in the region. The government will make provisions for mobile dispensaries in remote villages.
Move to check migration of youngsters
The migration of youngsters from border villages has been a concern, particularly in the past two years. The state government sent a team of five police commandants of different battalions to forward areas after China escalated the standoff in the Ladakh sector. In its report, the team cited lack of facilities in border areas as the main reason for the migration of youngsters.
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the home portfolio, had expressed concern over the “depopulation’ of youngsters due to a lack of economic activities. There is still a dearth of road, electricity and telecommunication systems in the tribal regions. Lack of medical facilities and higher education infrastructure are also factors, according to a presentation made by state director general of police Sanjay Kundu to the governor.
The state government has sought more funds for developing road and transport facilities in the region. It has sent proposals to the Centre to construct a road between Brua in Kinnaur to Harshil in Uttarakhand via the 17,000-ft Lam Khaga Pass to connect the border areas of the two states.
The border with China has remained largely peaceful barring sporadic incidence of air space incursions and Chinese soldiers entering Himachal borders.